As Xiang Fengs parents supported him, helping him take laborious steps to the living room, the back of his shirt was marred with a viscous, crimson stain.
"Fenger!" His mother and father implored, their faces apprehensive and troubled. Anxiety seemed to flicker in their eyes, and their collective apprehension was evident. "Fenger!" they repeated, as if the mere utterance of his name could somehow protect their son from the unknown perils of life. Their hands were clasped together in a desperate plea for his safety, and each utterance of his name painted the scene of their worry.
Xiang Feng felt an immense sense of liberation, a sensation of elation as his parents expressions remained composed and serene; evidently, they had deduced the truth behind the gruesome incident, the unwelcome intrusion of a sharp blade driven into the back of their beloved son. No exchange of heated words, no harsh reprimands, no need to explain himself or even apologize; merely a profound understanding of the situation. The perpetrator, Qi Zhen, had attacked him, his wrath manifesting itself in a brutal and unprovoked attack, a deed that Xiang Fengs parents had recognized with gracious clarity.
The assurance of their conviction filled Xiang Fengs being with a feeling of bliss and solace, knowing that he had been found innocent and that the truth had not been distorted by their love for him.
Xiang Fengs lips curved in an expression of self-satisfaction; the faint smile of a victorious conqueror. He had known from the start that simply warning Qi Zhen would not be enough in order to protect his sister; he had learned long ago that when it came to his adversaries, words of caution were seldom heeded. And so, he had crafted a plan, a plan that entailed leading Qi Zhen on an unsuspecting journey and luring him into a carefully crafted trap. Everything had gone according to plan; Xiang Feng had been careful not to miss a single step.
Qi Zhen had proven to be predictably gullible, falling right into the snare that had been set in place. Qi Zhens attack on him was the ideal method of ensuring he was incarcerated, thus keeping him away from Xiang Fengs sister.
"How is Qi Zhen getting on?" queried Xiang Feng, a hint of fake concern in his voice. "Although it was only in self-defense, but perhaps I got a little carried away in my retaliation after he laid an assault on me."
His fathers voice was a comforting balm, a reassuring presence in the face of the unthinkable. His finger pointed toward the window, indicating the almost unrecognizable figure of Qi Feng outside. "Don worry about him," his father said with a confident air. "Weve already contacted the police, and they should be here any minute now." He pulled the curtains closed, blocking out the sight of the perpetrator. "Its a good thing you reacted so quickly," his father continued, turning his attention back to his son and smiling. His eyes crinkled at the edges, and he placed a reassuring hand on his sons shoulder. "Who knows what could have happened if he had killed you…"
The police car rolled up the winding mountain road, its tires crunching on the rocky terrain and exhaust billowing in its wake. An oppressive afternoon heat hung in the air, and a light fog had gathered in the valley. The village below was shrouded in a muted emptiness. On the outskirts of the settlement, the car rumbled along the narrow track of cobbled stones that served as the villages only thoroughfare. Few street lamps illuminated the thoroughfare, their feeble light coming mostly from the windows of the houses that lined the road. Eventually they came to a single house, a small structure with a wooden roof and walls of adobe. Outside of the house was a chilling sight--a man lying on the ground, still and barely alive, his face and clothes stained with dark, fresh blood. The police officers opened their doors and got out of their car, preparing to investigate the scene before them.
The two cops cautiously approached the tragic figure at their feet, a barely-alive young boy who was drenched in a pool of his own blood. One of the officers was overcome by a wave of chills, running down their back as they surveyed the scene of violence before them. The level of brutality engendered by the perpetrators was beyond anything they had encountered before. Gripped by horror, they kneeled beside the boy, trying to assess the extent of his injuries. Every inch of his body was painted with open wounds and bruises. Blood trickled out of his wounds and soaked into the pavement. His shirt was ripped open, and his chest was dotted with deep gashes, some of which had scabbed over. His face was a gory mess, barely recognizable beneath the layers of dried blood and welts. One of the police officers felt a surge of rage, and was tempted to retaliate against the perpetrators for what they had done. The other officer, however, remained professional and focused on the task at hand.
The sound of two heavy knocks reverberated through the quiet hallway, halting the stillness of the evening.
Xiang Fengs father opened the door to the hallway. He eyed the two police officers standing in the hallway warily, their faces illuminated by the dim yellow light of the hallway. The taller of the two officers stepped forward, his uniform heavy with the weight of his badge and gun. His dark eyes met the mans, and he peered beyond the door, taking in his surroundings as his partner stood silently behind him.
The cops maintained their solemn silence, attentively listening to the mans account of what had taken place. He spoke softly, but with a conviction that commanded respect; his hands gesturing with fervor as though each syllable was part of a grand oration. Occasionally, one of the officers would interject, prompting the man for clarification or further elaboration. Once the man had reached the end of his story and had nothing more to say, the police looked to one another, their faces of stone slowly betraying a subtle hint of recognition, a sign of understanding. The shortest of the officers, his hands clasped in front of his chest, nodded his head slowly and spoke with a deep baritone, "Thank you, sir." The other officers followed suit, each of them nodding their heads, a gesture of affirmation that they had all heard enough.
As the police officers strode out of the abode, they set about exploring the circumstance. ready to draw the correct conclusion from the chaotic scene. They meticulously examined the evidence with utmost care, and although the clues were very subtle and delicate, their trained eyes and sharp minds were able to determine that Qi Zhen had been responsible for the attempted murder. With an intellectual eye and clinical precision, they slowly pieced together the crucial facts that eventually led them to the decision that Qi Zhen was the culprit. Once they had collected all the requisite pieces of the puzzle, they were positive that Qi Zhen had done it and arrested him accordingly.
They had successfully identified the perpetrator and their diligence and incredible attention to detail had brought justice to the crime.
One of the officers barked a command, gesturing towards Qi Zhen with one large hand while the other reached for his two-way radio. His partner stepped closer, hovering over Qi Zhen as he called in for an ambulance.
Xiang Fengs fathers strides marched back until he finally arrived in front of his son, the relief etched into his every breath. Heaving a heavy sigh, he placed a weathered hand on Xiang Fengs shoulder and eased the worry that had been creasing in his brow. "Fenger, the matter is handled," the father reassured, mustering a comforting smile.
Xiang Fengs eyes widened with relief as his fathers words washed over him like a balmy breeze.
"You see, Ive taken care of it," the father continued. "Things will soon be as they were." Xiang Feng could hardly believe his fathers words, his heart growing light with newfound assurance. His fathers smile grew wider, and Xiang Feng couldn help but smile back.
It was clear that his fathers words had been persuasive, and this realization brought a flood of joy to Xiang Fengs heart. His father had managed to explain the events of that night in such a way that Xiang Feng felt a tangible sense of gratitude that he had not been called upon to narrate his own version of the story. Although Xiang Feng had been prepared to recount the incident with frank honesty, it was a relief to see that his father had been able to convey the facts of the matter in an expeditious and convincing way.
Xiang Fengs chest swelled with pride at the thought of all that his father had accomplished in such a short time. He could not help but smile in the knowledge that the truth had been served, and he had been spared the burden of providing a detailed account.
Surrounded with an atmosphere of astonishing and extraordinary abnormality, his sister made not a single query regarding his emotional state or the extent of his injuries. She displayed no solicitude and proffered not a single inquiry concerning how he was faring or dealt with his scars and lacerations. Not once did she inquisitively wonder if he was managing or in any way succeeding in enduring his suffering. In the midst of each bewildering moment, she remained entirely silent and unresponsive to his predicament.
Xiang Fengs rage was seething, a boiling cauldron of emotions. It was an affront to him that his sister had not asked him of his wellbeing, instead she seemed gravely preoccupied with the matter of Qi Zhen. His sisters apparent disregard for his presence, mingled with a tender concern for someone else, made him burn with bitterness. There was a tension in the air, thick with hostility and apprehension, yet those closest to him made no mention of the atmosphere, instead they spoke of the issue of Qi Zhen and the negativity this individual had brought into their lives. Try as he might, Xiang Feng could not suppress the simmering resentment that had taken root within him and the melancholic feeling that his sister had neglected to acknowledge him.
He recalled the events and the bitterness that had been the steady companion to his every thought.
But then something strange occurred—amidst the miasma of pain and anguish, an unexpected warmth washes over him, leaving a strange sense of contentment in its wake. Unbidden, his eyes drift to the bandages and he gasps, as the tell-tale signs of healing meet his gaze. Straining to see the source of the newfound strength that he now sensed, he marvelled at the sight of his wounds closing in on themselves. In a matter of moments, Xiang Feng had gone from resigned bitterness to a shocked awe—his wounds were healed, and a guilty pleasure could be felt through his body, as if it were a silent tribute to his strength of spirit.
He thought back to the time when he had been creating his character, where he had chosen a set of perks that he felt suited it. A surge of gratification washed over him at the realization that his selection had paid off—the feeling of accomplishment that flooded him was unmistakable.